The Frankenstein monster story set in the future you didn’t know you wanted is back this week and it’s continuing its topical and heartbreaking story. Dr. Baker is willing to do anything to protect her son who is a reborn monster himself. Never poke a momma bear!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Dr. Baker holds Shelley and Byron in her underground lab as she unveils her rebooted son Akai for the first time.
Why does this book matter?
Victor LaValle is writing a compelling sci-fi story that weaves in social issues with an interesting “sequel” like take on the Frankenstein story. Plus, it’s doing some clever things to nod to the original work.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue thoroughly explains what happened to Dr. Baker’s son and why she’s so on edge about it. This gives the reader the necessary understanding to root for Dr. Baker and understand her. She might be willing to kill two seemingly innocent agents, but dammit she knows what she’s up against. Amongst the flashbacks, Dr. Baker tells the reader about a Mr. Medgar Evers, a real life civil rights activist who died right on his own driveway. LaValle does well to connect this moment–and the outrage Evers’ wife felt–to Baker and it also serves to tell the reader a little history while doing it.
There’s also another flashback about Dr. Frankenstein, which explains why he did what he did. He may be considered a mad genius, but Dr. Baker understands where the motivation came from, which again, ties well into the current storyline.
For the most part Dietrich Smith draws a good issue, with Dr. Baker’s son looking creepy yet innocent in his new form. The flashbacks feel purposeful and respectful and given the weight of these moments he nailed them out of the park. There’s also some tight scenes of movement that are depicted very well, from an agent touching Dr. Baker’s son across two panels–and getting zapped from him–to a gas mask flying down from the ceiling — with the movement always looking very clear.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The Frankenstein monster pops in this issue in an obvious attempt to shine a light on how we treat the animals we eat. The obviousness is fine, but the scene itself sticks out and seems hamfisted into the narrative as a whole. It’s also incomprehensible as to why the monster does what he does. He’s angry sure, but he also hurts the animals, so what is the point exactly? I guess humanity should be punished for what we’ve done, but the monster seemingly has no interest in making up for our failings. Unless the very point is he is as bad as humans, but it’s not very clear. There’s also a panel in this scene that’s obviously scrunched to fit at the bottom of the page and it looks a bit odd.
Another downside to this book is how much flashback is used. Three different flashbacks take up its pages, which makes the narrative in the now stall.
Is It Good?
Humanity sucks, and this issue aims to remind us of injustices we get away with, but when a monster is on your tail he won’t let you forget. LaValle is writing a very interesting sci-fi story here that Frankenstein fans can’t miss.